Wearing This One Thing Makes You Instantly More Attractive, New Study Says
Research found that the surprising piece of apparel made people more appealing.
Anyone who has spent time dating can tell you that attraction is a fickle force. After all, some people pine over qualities that may mean nothing to someone else. But besides knowing which personality traits click most for you, research has shown that some aspects of our physical appearance can pique interest in potential partners. And according to a recently released study, wearing one particular item can instantly make you appear more attractive. Read on to see what could improve your odds at finding love.
A study found that wearing a blue medical face mask can make you look more attractive.
In a study published in the journal Cognitive Research Principles and Implications on Jan. 10, a group of researchers set out to examine whether or not the face masks worn to protect against COVID-19 could affect their physical appeal to the opposite sex. "Research carried out before the pandemic found medical face masks reduce attractiveness—so we wanted to test whether this had changed since face coverings became ubiquitous and understand whether the type of mask had any effect," Michael Lewis, PhD, a reader from Cardiff University's School of Psychology and an expert in the psychology of faces, said in a press release.
To test their theory, researchers gathered a group of 43 women to rank the attractiveness of male faces in a series of images on a scale from one to ten. In each, the subject was maskless, wearing a cloth mask, wearing a blue medical-grade face mask, and holding a black notebook covering the lower half of the face. The researchers also noted that the test was conducted in the U.K. in February of 2021, seven months after face coverings became mandatory in public.
Results showed that of all the potential scenarios, participants ranked those in which the man was wearing a blue medical face mask the most attractive compared to the others.
Even wearing a cloth mask made someone more attractive than not wearing anything at all on their face.
But it wasn't just the high-quality masks that affected how participants ranked appearances. "We also found faces are considered significantly more attractive when covered by cloth masks than when not covered," Lewis said. "Some of this effect may be a result of being able to hide undesirable features in the lower part of the face—but this effect was present for both less attractive and more attractive people."
Even though it may obscure your features, Lewis speculates that current events may have turned the protective garments into a symbol that our brain interprets differently altogether. "This may be because we're used to healthcare workers wearing blue masks, and now we associate these with people in caring or medical professions. At a time when we feel vulnerable, we may find the wearing of medical masks reassuring and so feel more positive towards the wearer," Lewis said in the statement.
The latest findings go against previous research that found people were wary of anyone wearing medical masks.
The researchers noted that their findings show a drastic psychological shift might have occurred in how we view face coverings since the days before COVID-19. "The results run counter to the pre-pandemic research where it was thought masks made people think about disease and the person should be avoided," Lewis said in the statement. "The pandemic has changed our psychology in how we perceive the wearers of masks. When we see someone wearing a mask, we no longer think 'that person has a disease, I need to stay away.'"
"This relates to evolutionary psychology and why we select the partners we do. Disease and evidence of disease can play a big role in mate selection—previously, any cues to disease would be a big turn-off. Now we can observe a shift in our psychology such that face masks are no longer acting as a contamination cue," he explained.
The researchers also admit there could be other explanations for the findings. Lewis speculates that covering the lower half of the face with a mask could draw more attention to the eyes. He also pointed to other research that found covering the left or right side of a face could also boost how attractive someone appeared to others due to how the brain interrupts the missing visual information by exaggerating certain elements, The Guardian reports.
Studies have also found that wearing the color red can boost how attractive they are to others.
Besides wearing a blue face mask, other studies have found that donning specific colors can also boost your appeal. One study from 2010 published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that besides specific physical attributes such as "average, symmetrical facial features that display certain masculine qualities," women who are attracted to men find them more appealing when they're wearing the color red.
A second study from a team at the University of Rochester reached the same conclusion. To determine the effects of the color, those researchers invited 288 female and 25 male undergraduates to view a series of digitally altered photographs of men. In some, the men wore red or were flanked by a border of the rosy hue, while in others, there was no red in sight. The researchers then asked a series of questions, such as, "How attractive do you think this person is?" In analyzing participants' responses, they found that both wearing and being surrounded by the color red increased women's physical attraction.